I caved for Kale Chips

Kale Chips 10

Yup.  I’m behind the times on this one, I know.  Wayyyy behind.  You are all probably like, kale chips?  Been there, done that, b’y! (although probably without the “b’y” part, unless you’re in Newfoundland).

Thing is, kale is something you can get locally grown here.  Other thing is, it comes in a huge 5kg bag.  Having not tried this dark green super food before, the Pie and I were a little leery of purchasing such a huge amount of it at once.  Then recently I saw these wee bunches of a frizzy kind of kale that were just the right size for two people.  I could finally see what all the fuss was about.

Kale Chips 1

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.

Wash the kale well (as you should with any vegetable — it’s amazing what can get stuck in those leafy greens).  You want the kale to be as dry as possible.  If you have a salad spinner, give it a whaz in that for a while and see how that goes.  My kale was pretty rigid so I gave it a hefty shake and then bashed it against a tea towel for a while until I’d shaken most of the water drops off.

Kale Chips 2

Now you want to cut or tear your kale into chip-sized pieces.  The stems on mine were pretty tough so I make sure to get rid of that.

Kale Chips 3

Lay your pieces out on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Because I’m lazy (and I care about accuracy), I used my Misto oil sprayer, which pressurizes your own brand of oil and lets you spray it like an aerosol, minus all the gross things that come with aerosols.

Kale Chips 4

This allowed me to get a thin layer of oil on every leaf, rather than huge gobs somewhere and none somewhere else.  Anyway, then you use your fingers to massage the oil into the surface of every leaf.  If it’s not covered with oil it won’t get as crispy when you bake it.

Kale Chips 5

Sprinkle with salt and pepper (though less salt than you’d think, as kale is naturally a bit salty), or with any other toppings you like, such as cumin, chipotle, or even cheese, and toss, making sure the leaves are once again in a single layer.

Kale Chips 6

Bake for about 8-12 minutes, checking to make sure the leaves aren’t burning.  The cooked leaves are dark, even slightly brownish, and crisp like chips.  Allow them to cool (or don’t) and crunch away on this easy peasy snack!

Kale Chips 9

Kale Chips 11

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Have You Tried Banana “Ice Cream”?

Banana Ice Cream 6

No?  You probably should.  It’s like all the good things about ice cream, but it’s also gluten-free, vegan, and pretty darned good for you.  I feel like world peace could be achieved if everyone could have some of this ice cream (except for people who are allergic to bananas — they will just have to negotiate peace on their own terms).

Banana Ice Cream 7

So basically, you take some bananas.  Ripe ones, with a few brown spots.  You want them soft and squishy and very sweet.

Banana Ice Cream 1

Then you peel them and slice them into disks.  And then you freeze those.  In the freezer.  Or outside, if you live in Central or Eastern or Atlantic Canada.  Or Northern Europe.  Or Siberia.  Or Antarctica (actually, then they’d probably be too cold.  Your freezer is probably warmer than Antarctica).

Banana Ice Cream 2

Then you take them out of the freezer.  And you plop them in your food processor.

Banana Ice Cream 3

AND YOU GIVE IT A WHAZ.  Which is what Jamie Oliver would say.  And the Pie and I love him, so that’s one of our new favourite phrases.

Banana Ice Cream 10

And when it’s all gooey and soft and smooth, you can eat it!

Banana Ice Cream 8

If you prefer your soft serve a little more firm, you can chuck it back in the freezer for a bit.  I like the fact that when it thaws, because it’s banana, it doesn’t get all soupy.

Banana Ice Cream 13

And you can flavour it as well!  Add peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate chips, cocoa, vanilla … you name it (I added Nutella and vanilla).

Banana Ice Cream 5

The only limit is your imagination — and what you have to stuff in there.  GO BANANAS!

Banana Ice Cream 12

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Here is yet another Martha Stewart soup and I think I like this the best of the three I’ve made recently.  I made all three over one weekend, so I got a chance to taste them all at the same time.  In this soup, the vegetables are roasted beforehand to bring out the flavour, and man oh man is it some flavour!

Preheat your oven to 425°F and position your oven racks so one is at the very top and one is at the very bottom.

On the bottom tray you’re going to have your eggplant and your chickpeas.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

On the top tray will be your tomatoes, carrots, and garlic.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Peel about 12 cloves garlic and peel and chop up about 1/2lb carrots.  This equaled 2 large carrots, for me.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Then you need to halve and core about 3lbs plum (Roma) tomatoes.  The recipe says that this is about 12 tomatoes, but I ended up with 18 to make that weight.  I found the tomato huller tool worked great for this.  It took out the top stem bit, and then after I halved them it was great at scooping out the innards.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Toss the tomatoes with the garlic and tomatoes and 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Garnish liberally with fresh ground pepper and pinches of sea salt.  Spread them in a single layer (if you can) on a rimmed baking sheet with the cut sides of the tomatoes facing downwards.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Chop up 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2lb) into 3/4″ pieces.  Of course our grocery store never has the same kind of eggplant two days in a row, so I got 4 baby eggplants instead.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Rinse and drain 1 can of chickpeas.  Toss those in with the eggplant, together with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons curry powder.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Spread that out on a rimmed baking sheet as well.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Roast your vegetables, tomatoes on the top rack, eggplant on the bottom, for 45 minutes.  Toss your vegetables halfway through.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Now your tomato skins will be all lovely and wrinkly.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

You can just pick them off with a set of tongs.  Be careful not to burn yourself.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Once your tomatoes are peeled, dump the contents of the tomato tray (carrots, garlic, skinless tomatoes and juices) into a large saucepan.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Purée the tomato mixture and then add 3-4 cups water.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Stir in the eggplant mixture and bring the whole thing to a simmer.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Serve garnished with fresh cilantro and crusty bread.  You can also freeze this soup for later on down the road.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

Wingin’ It Wednesday: Red Soup, Green Soup

Red Soup Green Soup

It’s been so busy here since Victoria Day that we haven’t had a chance to really do a lot of cooking for cooking’s sake.  As a result, when I cleaned out our refrigerator this weekend in preparation for my parents’ arrival tomorrow (!), I found a sizable amount of very sad-looking produce.  When I bought it, it looked sad, as most Newfoundland produce does, and two weeks in my crisper made it sadder still.  Sad vegetables are just begging to be chucked in sauces, roasted, layered in a casserole, or made into soup.  So I made soup.

Red Soup Green Soup

I had red vegetables and green vegetables, and so I decided to make two different soups.

Each one started with onions and garlic, obviously.

Red Soup Green Soup

The red soup was carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes.

Red Soup Green Soup

And I scooped out the seeds of the tomatoes.  Well, some of them. I got bored quickly.

Red Soup Green Soup

Chop that up, chuck it in a pot with some broth, some chipotle seasoning, and chinese five spice, then blend it up and you’ve got a savoury soup with a bit of kick.

Red Soup Green Soup

The green soup had fennel, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, leeks, and cabbage.

Red Soup Green Soup

To even out the flavours I added dill, mustard powder, salt, and a dash of cumin.  Blended up, it’s cool as the cucumbers inside it.

Red Soup Green Soup

Then I stored them all in plastic containers and froze them for future enjoyment!

Red Soup Green Soup

Lovers’ Sweet Potato and Mushroom Ravioli

Lovers' Ravioli

We don’t tend to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  We’re totally broke, for one thing, and for another, we’d rather not have to spend a day doing obligatory and clichéed things to tell each other how we feel.  We do that on a daily basis anyway.

States of Gren

I am of course talking about our love for Gren.  Duh.  He’s so smooshy.  In the words of Cait, “I want to smoosh him.  With smooshes.”  We definitely smoosh him regularly.

States of Gren

In any case, because it’s expected of us (and because nobody ever wants to do anything with us on Valentine’s Day), we usually have a nice meal together and talk about how stupid this Hallmark holiday is.

If you are of the same bent, or if you love to do smooshy romantic things for your true love, why not make up some fresh pasta and go from there?

I figured I would give ravioli a try.  Why the heck not?

The ingredients for each component of this are so simple. The only one I really measured for was the pasta dough, because I’m not yet at the eyeballing stage for that.

For the ravioli filling:

Lovers' Ravioli

You will need sweet potatoes, dried shiitake mushrooms (you can use fresh ones but I like the chewy texture of the dried ones), and roasted garlic.

Plop a handful or two dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of warm water and leave them for 30-60 minutes, or until all tender.  I find that placing a small plate on top ensures they all get evenly exposed to water.

Lovers' Ravioli

While those are percolating, peel and cube a large sweet potato.  This one weighed in at 1 3/4lb.  Plop that in a pot full of water and boil until tender.

Lovers' Ravioli

Drain the sweet potatoes and mash ’em.

Lovers' Ravioli

Take your hydrated mushrooms out of the water, cut off the woody stems, and chop them finely.

Lovers' Ravioli

I found that after chopping, a quick sojourn in the food processor got them to the size I wanted them.

Lovers' Ravioli

Save the water from your mushrooms — it makes a great vegetable stock.

Lovers' Ravioli

I made this roasted garlic last week from three heads of garlic.  If you click on the link above you can see how I did it.  I’m going to use all three heads, because the Pie and I have been together for almost eight years, so it’s not going to matter how much garlic we consume.  Do exercise some caution if you’re new to the relationship and you’re still trying to impress … Though I suppose if you both consume the same amount of garlic it really doesn’t matter, does it?

Lovers' Ravioli

Anyway, I plopped that in the food processor as well (with a drop of olive oil) and came out with a lovely aromatic paste.

Lovers' Ravioli

In a bowl, combine your mashed sweet potato, the minced mushrooms, and the garlic paste and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lovers' Ravioli

Stir that around and set it aside.

Lovers' Ravioli

For the ravioli pasta:

Lovers' Ravioli

For this you need durum semolina flour, salt, and eggs.  Semolina is perfect for making pasta because it has an extremely high gluten content, which means that your pasta will stay cohesive even when immersed in boiling water.  That is kind of important.

So take 3 eggs and whisk them together with a pinch of salt.  I like to add in a few drops of olive oil, as well, for smoothness.

Lovers' Ravioli

Pour 2 cups durum semolina flour on a clean work surface, make a well in the centre, and pour in the eggs.

Lovers' Ravioli

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  I wish I’d thought of it sooner so I could have made a better heart.

Lovers' Ravioli

Using a scraper and/or a fork, gradually incorporate the eggs into the flour until you have a coherent ball.

Lovers' Ravioli

I used some regular all-purpose flour at the end, just to reduce the tackiness of the dough a bit.  You will want to knead it for about 10 minutes, just to get all the gluten working for you.

Lovers' Ravioli

Wrap up your final ball and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Lovers' Ravioli

Cut your dough into manageable sections.  I cut mine into four.  Flatten out your first section enough so it fits into your pasta machine.  If you are rolling it out by hand, have fun with that.

Lovers' Ravioli

I prefer my pasta maker.

Lovers' Ravioli

I cut my strips in half, so that I could fold the second half over the top half like a mirror image.  Though it does help if your top half is slightly bigger than your bottom half.

Lovers' Ravioli

Put little dollops of your filling on your bottom sheet with enough space in between so you can cut them easily.

Lovers' Ravioli

Carefully line up the top half and lay it over the filling.

Lovers' Ravioli

Working from the inside out, gently stretch and press the top dough over the filling to form little pockets.

Lovers' Ravioli

When each pocket is sealed, use a knife or a ravioli cutter to separate them.

Lovers' Ravioli

For this first round, I went all the way up to the #7 setting on my pasta maker, which made the pasta sheets very thin — a little too thin.  You can see how they have torn and I had to patch them.

Lovers' Ravioli

The next round, I only went up to the #5 setting, which was much more manageable, and I prepared the ravioli on waxed paper, which made peeling them up much easier. I probably could have gone as high as #6, but I’m still new to this.

Lovers' Ravioli

I separated each round of pasta with waxed paper to prevent sticking.

Lovers' Ravioli

I had some leftover filling, which I froze.  I would gladly make this again.

Lovers' Ravioli

Now, set a pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil, and get started on your sauce.

For the sauce:

Lovers' Ravioli

You will need butter, sage, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese.

Slice 10-12 sage leaves finely to ensure all their lovely aromatic juices get released.

Lovers' Ravioli

To save time and my sanity (I really hate grating cheese), I cubed up about 1/3 cup of my extra-hard parmesan and gave it a go in the food processor.  Totally worth it.

Lovers' Ravioli

So for your mis en place you have your sage, chopped, your cheese, grated, about 1/2 cup lemon juice, and about 4-5 tablespoons butter.

Lovers' Ravioli

By now, your pasta water should be boiling, so carefully tip all your ravioli in and cook them for about 8 minutes.

Lovers' Ravioli

While that is going on, in a large, wide, deep frying pan on medium-high heat, melt your butter.

Lovers' Ravioli

Continue to cook the butter, scraping the bottom with a spatula to prevent burning, until it starts to foam up and the clear liquid turns a lovely light caramel brown colour.  Add in your sage leaves and remove the butter from the heat.

Lovers' Ravioli

See the brownness?

Lovers' Ravioli

Pour in your lemon juice and give that a stir. Oh man does that ever smell good. Like all the best parts of everything.

Lovers' Ravioli

Drain your pasta and plop them in the frying pan with the butter.  Pour in your cheese and toss the lot to coat.

Lovers' Ravioli

Lovers' Ravioli

Serve it up, with plenty of leftovers.

Lovers' Ravioli

Though  none for Gren.  Much to his disappointment.

Lovers' Ravioli

O Canada: Nova Scotia HodgePodge with Beer Bread

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

In light of the Multilinguist’s excursions in Vega, we are making October Canadian Cuisine feature month (the Pie is thrilled because none of it involves tofu).

What better way to start us off than to take advantage of what the autumn harvest in Newfoundland has to offer us?  This creamy vegetable stew is easy and comforting (vegetarian, too, though certainly not vegan).  The recipe for the stew comes from All Recipes (with my modifications), and the idea itself comes from Delilah, one of the Pie’s classmates.  The beer bread comes from my mother’s own cookbook on Nova Scotian eatery.

For the Beer Bread:

HodgePodge with Beer Bread
Didn't have any Nova Scotia beer on hand, sorry.

In a bowl, mix 3 cups self-raising flour with 3 tablespoons granulated sugar.  If you don’t have self-raising flour, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt into every cup of all-purpose flour.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add in 1 12oz bottle of beer and mix well.  Use a commercially produced beer for a lighter loaf, or a home made beer for a denser loaf.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

This is supposed to turn out more like a batter, and you can see here that one bottle of beer has just produced a really dry dough.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

I poured in almost a whole ‘nother beer before I got the consistency I was looking for, but this will depend on your flour, your beer, the temperature/pressure/humidity of your environment, whether or not you got out of bed on the right side or the left side, whether a butterfly really did flap its wings in Brazil … you get the idea.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Pour into a greased loaf pan and chuck it into a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 350°F and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

The loaf will sound solid when you tap it and be a pale golden when it’s done.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Serve hot.  Also good the next day if you have any left over.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

For the HodgePodge:

Peel and dice 1 medium-sized turnip.  Chuck that in a large saucepan.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Dice 3-4 carrots and chuck those in as well.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Trim the ends off a couple handfuls of fresh wax beans (those are the yellow ones) and cut them into 1-2″ pieces.  Do the same with several handfuls fresh green beans.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add enough water to the saucepan to cover the vegetables.  Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Cube up 5-6 small potatoes and add that to the pot.  Let that simmer another 30 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add in 6 tablespoons butter and 1-2 cups heavy cream (we used a blended table cream here) and stir that in for a few minutes.  Soy milk would also work well here.  I have used soy milk in chowders and it provides a rich, nutty flavour that complements the vegetables nicely.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add 2-3 tablespoons flour to 1 cup water and stir that around.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Pour the flour water into the saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cook for a few more minutes to thicken the broth.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Season generously with salt and pepper and serve hot with beer bread.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Frankly, both the Pie and I found the hodgepodge a little on the bland side.  It tasted kind of like invalid soup.  But it was good.  And totally freeze-able.  Next time, though, I think I’d add an onion, some garlic, and some spices.  The beer bread was excellent and we plan to have what’s leftover with some chili tomorrow night.

Tofu Feature Month: Tofu-Spinach Calzones

Tofu Spinach Calzone

[Note from Photographer’s Ego: Yes, I know these pictures fail to follow that number one rule of food photography: use natural light!  I will be building myself a light box soon, not to fret.]

This will be our final tofu recipe for you folks for a while.  Our digestive systems are not used to so much soy and they have unequivocally had enough.  The Pie especially so.  Poor man.  Pity him that his wife cooks new things for him on a regular basis.  Tsk.

The last time the Pie and I attempted calzones, we ended up with floor pizza.  I was determined to get it right this time.  The recipe below, with some modifications, comes from the Savvy Vegetarian, and it’s pretty easy.  The dough is nice and stretchy, and I could definitely use it again for a calzone with a different filling, which is exciting!  The yield for this is 10 hand-hold-able calzones, and I halved it (because there’s only the Pie and myself — Gren doesn’t get people food).

For the dough:

In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar in 1 1/4 cups warm water.  Stir in 2 teaspoons active dry yeast and allow that to sit for 10 minutes.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Or until it gets all foamy.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

In a larger bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to 3 cups flour and mix well.

Rub in (exactly how it sounds) 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Rub it between your fingers until there are no large clumps left.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Stir the water/yeast mixture into the flour until it forms a shaggy ball.  Make sure to get all the floury goodness at the bottom of the bowl.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

On a floured surface, knead the ball for about 10 minutes.  The more you knead it, the tackier it will get, so you will need to add more flour on occasion.  Also, keep in mind that the more you knead it, the more elastic it will be (because you worked all the gluten together).  You want your dough to be nice and stretchy.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with a clean cloth and set it in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

For the filling:

Dice up 1/4 cup onion, and about 8 mushrooms and toss them in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons minced garlic.  Sauté until soft.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

In a small bowl, mix up 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon powdered vegetable stock, 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, a pinch of cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Toss that on the vegetables in the pan and stir it around.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Plop in 16 ounces fresh baby spinach (you can use frozen spinach, if you thaw it and drain it first), as well as 2 12-ounce packages of firm silken tofu and a dash of soy sauce.  You can break up the tofu before you toss it in, but it gave me something to do while I waited for the spinach to wilt.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

I had some leftover chèvre, 8 ounces worth, so I tossed that in as well.  So if you’d like to add that to this recipe, chuck in 8-16 ounces goat’s cheese and stir it around until well-incorporated and completely melted.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Remove the mixture from the heat.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Calzone Assembly and Baking:

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Punch down your dough.  Literally.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Divide it into 10 equal parts, rolled into balls (remember, my recipe is halved, that’s why you only see five).

Tofu Spinach Calzone

On a floured surface, roll each ball out into a 6″ round.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Divide the filling into 10 equal parts and place each portion on a round, slightly to one side.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Wet the edges of the dough with your finger and fold over each round to make a half circle.

Squish down the edges with your finger and crimp with a fork to seal them.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Place the calzones on a baking sheet.  You can brush them with oil and sprinkle them with salt if you like, for a crusty, salty top.  I chose to cook ours on our pizza stone, which I put in the oven when I turned it on. Cut two diagonal slices in the top of each calzone to let the steam escape.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and the filling bubbles up through the holes.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Be careful, they’re HOT!